Heading to our next destination meant that we had to leave the beautiful landscape of Picacho Peak State Park behind. Driving along I-10, we saw this:
With existing plans to visit our friends, Jim and Joan, who had recently given up their RV lifestyle and become permanent residents in Tucson, we had made a three night reservation at Casino Del Sol.
After checking in at the casino gas station, we made our way to back in site #6, one of the 73 back in and pull thru sites offered. This turned out to be a decent park – gated, clean and well maintained with nicely spaced sites. Only downside was that there wasn’t any privacy between sites.
The night before Jim and Joan were supposed to visit, I was up most of the night not feeling well. Then Joan texted on the morning of their planned visit saying that she and Jim had colds. Since none of us were feeling 100%, we thought it best to cancel.
On February 12th, we moved to the north side of the city to Western Way RV Resort.
Since we were able to check in to the resort early, there was plenty of time to take a ride to Saguaro National Park West.
The entry fee to the park is $25 valid for seven days but with the Senior Pass, admission is free. Being a Saturday, the Visitor Center was extremely busy plus we had been there before so we only stopped to pick up a map.
On the morning of our next excursion, we had a hearty breakfast at Sunny Daze Cafe where I had a Denver omelet ($9.19) and Rob had country fried steak ($10.99). Cute eclectic place with really good food!With a summit elevation of 9,159 feet, Mt. Lemon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Although it would be a two hour drive, since it was a sunny day, it would be a perfect day for a drive in the mountains especially since rain and possible snow was expected on the mountain the next day. Beautiful drive along Catalina Drive with absolutely spectacular scenery!
Wow, definitely worth the two hour drive! To see more photos of our drive to Mt. Lemon, check out this photo album.
Another very interesting attraction had been recommended to us by a friend of ours in RI – a tour of the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley which was operational from 1963 to 1987. To take the guided tour and the self guided topside tour, the cost is: adults $16.50; seniors 65+ $15.50; Juniors 5-12 $12.00.
The 45 minute tour was excellent and very informative but our friend had told us that his tour guide had actually worked at the missile sight during the cold war and had a lot of personal stories to share. Our guide who was relatively young, didn’t have any hands on experience and presented more of a scripted tour. Still interesting however!
During the guided tour, we descended 35 feet into the missile complex via 55 steps, visit the launch control center, and experience a simulated launch of the missile. Check out this map of the museum.
Rather than me trying to remember/explain what we saw on the tour, watch this YouTube video. It is excellent!
On the self guided topside tour, we were able to see the alarm systems, known as tipsies, that secured the missile silo door and the engine up-close. By looking down into the missile silo, we had a spectacular view of the 146-foot Titan II missile from up above, just as it was on alert twenty years ago!
Afterwards we had a decent lunch at Mama’s Kitchen in Green Valley where I had the Catfish Basket ($12.99) and Rob had the meat loaf special ($11.85). Good food!
From below ground to above ground! Our next stop was the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center & Mining Tours in Sahuarita, AZ where we enjoyed a self guided tour of the Gift Shop and Visitor Center.
During two very informative videos, we learned how copper is extracted and processed as well as its many household and industrial uses. Some of those uses are outlined in this interesting facts about copper web page. In the Gift Shop, we oohed and aahed over the various displays of the ore, other minerals and jewelry displays.
Moving outside, we were astounded by the displays of numerous, gargantuan trucks used to haul material as well as other mining equipment which dotted the landscape.
One of the trucks, a Komatsu 830 Haul Truck, was 23 feet high, 24 feet wide, 46 feet long and could haul 240 tons of material on its bed. Yikes!!! I looked like an ant standing beside it. Cost of one of the huge haul trucks – $3.5 million; cost to replace one of the tires – $85,000.
We asked about taking an Asarco mine tour but unfortunately tours were not available and wouldn’t be until the following Tuesday (February 22nd) so we decided we would drive back from our next destination in Benson (about an hour away) to take the tour. But more about that later!